Politics & Government

Now you can get your name on a Wichita park before you’re pushing up daisies

There was some great news for living people at the Wichita City Council on Tuesday — members voted to allow park facilities to be named after folks before they pass on to their final reward.

That policy change was approved 5-2 despite concerns that it could result in naming something after someone who later turns out to be someone you don’t want to name something after.

“I think it sets a precedent that could leave us open to embarrassing situations,” said council member Bryan Frye. “I’m sure there are facilities across this country named for Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby and O.J. Simpson.”

Park and Recreation Director Troy Houtman said the council names facilities and could un-name them if necessary.

“It’s only as permanent as the council votes for it to be,” he said.

Park and Recreation analyst Gentry Thiesen said there have been exceptions to the policy over the years for native daughters and sons who made it big in the sports world, including:

A park for Hall of Fame basketball player and coach Lynette Woodard.

Basketball courts for Wichita State University legend and NBA star Antoine Carr.

A football field for NFL Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders.

Mayor Jeff Longwell said since there are exceptions anyway, the city might as well change the policy to match.

Council member Brandon Johnson agreed, saying it would “give folks flowers while they’re still here and they can appreciate the love that the community would give them in naming something after them.”

Jeff Blubaugh joined Frye in voting against the policy change.

Senior Journalist Dion Lefler has been providing award-winning coverage of local government, politics and business in Wichita for 20 years. Dion hails from Los Angeles, where he worked for the LA Daily News, the Pasadena Star-News and other papers. He’s a father of twins, director of lay servant ministries in the United Methodist Church and plays second base for the Old Cowtown vintage baseball team.